My whole life, I’ve been a dog lover. My parents never let me have one though; they said dogs were too much work. So, when I went away to college, I knew that I had to have a dog. I also knew that I had no clue how to take care one.
Phyllis An 8 Week Old Golden Retriever-Yellow Lab Puppy
Shortly after my training had ended, I received my very first 8-week-old puppy, Phyllis. No, I did not get to pick the name (although I do love The Office). Phyllis is a golden retriever-yellow lab mix and could not be any cuter. I fell in love with her instantly.
Day 1 with Phyllis
I quickly found out that my parents had been lying to me my entire life – puppies are a lot of work, but that is the fun in raising them! The best part about Phyllis was that she was a certified service dog. That meant she had to wear her cute yellow “dog in training” vest and follow me to class, restaurants, sporting events, movie theaters, and more.
We attended monthly training programs together so that the program could monitor her progress. She was so smart, independent and strong. She had a will of her own. 15 months passed quickly and it was time for Phyllis to head to New York for her professional training. If she passed, it was off to live with someone who has vision impairments.
Phyllis and her brother Duke, the day before heading up to NY (Phyllis on left, Duke on right)
Saying goodbye to Phyllis was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. If you’ve ever had a dog, you know how it would feel to give up a pup you love so much after 15 months together. It was heart wrenching, but I knew she was on her way to do the job she was born to do.
Ace An 8 Week Old Black Lab Puppy
Luckily, upon her goodbye, I was handed Ace, my new 8-week-old black lab puppy. It was difficult starting again from square one with Ace’s training, but I quickly fell madly in love with him. He was my buddy, my cuddler, my sweetheart.
Day 1 with Ace
Eight months into my training with Ace, I received great news: Phyllis had graduated from her training and moved to Arizona with her new owner, an elderly woman who was blind. Before I knew it, it was time for Ace to head to New York as well. I waited months to hear about Ace’s progress and finally the news came: he had graduated the program as well and was placed with a woman in Michigan.
I couldn’t be more proud of my dogs for making it all the way through the guide dog program and leading the blind with their eyes and with their hearts. Today, I’m a still pen pal with Phyllis and Ace’s owners. They send me updates and pictures each month. I also have two dogs that are my very own: Kibo (a goofy, Shepherd mix) and Kenya (an 8-week-old puppy mix). The three of us live in Denver now, where I attend graduate school.
We’ve been organizing our Orange County Guide Dogs of America group outings for the past two years and one of our favorites is organized by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).
The OCTA Service Animal Training is held once a year on the first Saturday of October and offers service animals the opportunity to ride the OCTA bus and enter the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park for free! Training is held from 8am to noon at the Fullerton Park and Ride.
OCTA Service Animal Training
Hina riding the OCTA bus at service animal training day.
We’ve been raising and training guide dog puppies for over 6 years now. Part of our job as guide dog puppy raisers is to make sure our puppies are well socialized with all different kinds of people, places, and things. When our dogs graduate guide dog college many will start using public transportation on a regular basis.
A lot of us don’t think to much about public transportation especially people like myself living in Southern California and driving a car from place to place. Many people with disabilities don’t have the luxury of driving their own cars and must use buses, trains, and trams to get around.
Guide dogs in training boarding the bus
OCTA bus training is a great chance for our dogs to gain experience boarding, exiting, and riding on a bus. Not only that, but OCTA and Knott’s Berry Farm team up every year to also give us free passes into Knott’s Berry Farm to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a theme park.
It’s an awesome experience for both puppy raisers and puppies in training and if you’re a puppy raiser and live in the Southern California area I highly recommend you look into attending OCTA service animal training next year.
Pups at Knott’s Berry Farm in front of the train
Some Tips When Working With Your Puppy On The Bus
We got a few last minute tips from our puppy department before our training day and we just wanted to share with you in case you ever have to take your dog on the bus.
When riding the bus, puppies need to be sitting in front of you facing out, and your toes should be tucked around your puppy’s toes to protect them from being stepped on. This will be the most common position for them in formal training and when riding with their blind person.
For longer rides, puppies can be laying down as long as no part of them is sticking out from under the seat.
Basically you want to make sure and protect your puppy from getting stepped on. Be very aware of your puppies feet and tail as they tend to sometimes hang out and can possibly get run over by an unsuspecting person.
Great job puppy raisers! Pups are kept under seats with a clear path for people to walk down.
Many Different Service Animal Groups Gather At OCTA Bus Training
Of course the weekend was not without a little bit of mischief. we saw this pup hop up on the passenger seat. A definite no-no when riding the bus. I guess he wanted to check out the college football scores.
Getting into a bit of puppy mischief. Our pups aren’t perfect that’s why jackets say puppy “in training”
Thank you to Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and Knott’s Berry Farm for providing us with this wonderful training day. It’s an invaluable experience for all of us puppy raisers.
We’ll see you next year!
Did you participate in this years OCTA Service Animal Training? Have you taken you dog on public transportation? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
Last week Apache went back to school to start his formal guide dog training. It’s both a happy and sad day. Happy because he gets to start the next leg in his journey to becoming a guide dog and sad because I will miss having him by my side every day. However, there are always 2 questions I get asked when I bring my puppy back to school:
When would you like to get another puppy?
Are you interested in puppy sitting?
Actually question #1 usually gets asked before turn in, during turn in, and after turn in. Why not? Who could resist an adorable little puppy? Like I said last week…on our way out we stopped by the nursery to see the adorable puppies…
WARNING: ADORABLE PUPPY PICTURES COMING UP PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
I’m a little black Labrador Retriever Golden Retriever Cross Puppy
Who could resist that face? Well, apparently me because when the GDA Puppy Department asked me: “When would you like to get another puppy?” My answer was that I’d like to take a little break from puppy raising.
However, I had no problem answering yes when I was asked: ”Are you interested in puppy sitting?” It’s been less than a week since Apache was turned in to the school and already I’ve agreed to 2 puppy sitting assignments.
The good news about this past weeks puppy sitting assignment…lots of puppy pics to share! We post most of our puppy pics to our Facebook page so make sure you “like” our Facebook page.
I like puppy sitting guide dog pups because it’s like puppy raising, but it’s usually a short term assignment anywhere from 1 day to maybe a couple weeks. It gives you a chance to work on the same puppy obedience training, socialization, house manners that you do with your own guide dog puppy in training.
We’ve been puppy sitting an 8 week old yellow Labrador Retriever named Toby who’s the cutest most adorable puppy in the world! Actually, I’ll let you decide. Take a look at some of his pics:
Toby loves playing with his doggy toys!
Yep, that’s Toby! He even has a little smile on his face in that picture. Irresistible! Toby is learning that he can’t harass Stetson and Linus all day and sometimes he needs to just play by himself with his toys.
Cradling Toby the bat!
In honor of the release of the latest Batman movie: The Dark Knight Rises, Toby is doing his best Batman impersonation!
Honestly, we’re just teaching Toby to be calm while he’s cradled. It’s important for us to teach our puppy to be cradled and handled. A blind person will need to be able to run their hands all over their guide dog in order to check for any health problems. We practice with our puppy on his back between our legs feeling his tail, ears, face, legs, paws, and chest. Sometimes it takes a little while to get a puppy used to being cradled and handled so we make sure and work on this with all of our pups.
Toby got a new doggy toy today…
It’s good to have lots of different textured dog toys for your puppy. Okay, so maybe this is an extreme example, but just in case you didn’t notice puppy’s like to chew. That is why I recommend many different textured toys (KONG, Nylabone, Plush toys, etc.) because once your puppy gets bored with one type of textured dog toy you can swap it out for a completely different type of toy. This makes it more interesting for you pup.
Was I right? Is Toby the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen? I’m really enjoying puppy sitting Toby and I will definitely be sad to see him go. However, my next puppy sitting assignment will start next week so there will be no time to rest.
If you’re interested in puppy raising or puppy sitting guide dog puppies then please let me know by sending an email through our contact form or just leave us a comment below.
So how about you? Are you a puppy sitter or a puppy raiser?
It’s been over a month since Dublin went in for formal guide dog training and I really haven’t done too much here on the blog, on his facebook page, his YouTube channel, or on his Twitter account. However, that’s all about to change starting with this short blog post about one of the last reports we filled out before turning Dublin in for formal training.
A couple months ago we received a letter in the mail telling us that it was time to bring Dublin back to guide dog school for his formal guide dog training. Included with that letter was a short questionnaire that we filled out letting the guide dog trainers know a little bit about Dublin, how he did in his dog obedience training classes, and anything that might be helpful during his stay at guide dog college. Here are the questions and answers we provided.
Dropping Dublin off at Guide Dog School
Puppy Raiser Turn In Questionnaire
Dear Puppy Raisers:
Listed below are some questions that will help the trainers in knowing a little more about your puppy.
Please fill it out to the best of your knowledge and bring it with you to the luncheon.
Puppy’s Name: Dublin
1. How many family members worked with the puppy?: 1
2. Where does the puppy sleep at night?: Crate next to the bed
Have you ever used a crate?: Yes
3. What are the dogs favorite activities: he likes playing with my o
ther dog Linus or lay quietly chewing on a bone.
4. What is it’s favorite toy?: Kong
5. What reaction does your dog have to loud noises?: Startled or alert and recovers quickly.
Barking dogs?: Alert sometimes excited.
6. Has your dog been exposed to other animals?: Yes, horses, dogs, cats, birds, donkeys, llamas, snakes, lizards.
7. In what kind of neighborhood environment did your puppy grow up? (Sidewalk less areas, livestock areas, high traffic areas): Condo community with sidewalks on a golf course.
8. How is your puppy at being restrained?: excited, but ok.
During Vet exam?: excited, but ok.
While cleaning its ears?: Dublin has had many ear infections and will sit calmly to get his ears cleaned.
While on tie-down: he remains quiet on a tie-down.
9. Any chronic health problems?: Ear infections.
10. Any problem areas?: Over excited on meet and greets. Mouthy behavior. Doesn’t like getting his nails trimmed.
11. How much is your dog currently eating?: 1 1/2 cups 2x a day.
What brand of food?: Purina Pro Plan Chicken.
12. Please list anything you would like the trainers to know about your puppy?: He’s still a very mouthy dog mostly licking now. On a couple occasions with other dogs on outings he’s been very excited and lacked focus, but when we’re not with other dogs on outings he usually does quite well. His obedience is good, but can use work on sit-stays and down-stays.
As I mentioned it’s been a little over a month since Dublin went off to college. We still haven’t heard anything back from our little puppy in training, but at this point in time they always say that “no news is good news”.
As a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America I know we all receive this Puppy Raiser Questionnaire, but how about the other organizations? Do any of you out their who puppy raise for other guide or service dog organizations receive a similar questionnaire? Let us know in the comment section below.
Well, the time is here, the day you’ve been anticipating since you picked up Dublin all those months ago. It is now time for Dublin to come in for his formal guide dog training.
We know this is a hard time for you and we would like to try to make it a little easier by inviting you to a Luncheon on October, 29, 2011 at 12:00 noon.
This is just a fun day for you and the other puppy raisers for moral support and to say good-bye to your puppy until Graduation Day. After we are done eating, talking and playing, we will walk the dogs down to the kennel where you will be able to put them in their runs.
Please give us a call to let us know that you will be attending and how many of you in your group. If you cannot make it or prefer to bring Dublin in on a different day, please give us a call to let us know when you will be bringing him in.
While he is here, please feel free to call at any time and we will let you know how Dublin is doing in his training.
Enclosed you will find questionnaires to be filled out and brought to the luncheon, along with his Veterinary Medical Records and jacket. If you would like to bring a toy to share with the others, please do so. (Hard rubber toys, Kongs, hard bones would be great!)
Again, thank you for all the love, support and a job well done! If you are thinking about a new puppy, please give me a call — we have PLENTY coming up.
Guide Dogs of America
Dublin is Going In For Formal Guide Dog Training
So there’s the official letter from Guide Dogs of America we just received. It’s hard to believe that my little puppy is already going into formal guide dog training. It seems like not that long ago we were picking him up and putting together his first Puppy In Training TV video.
We still have a few weeks left with Dublin and plan on shooting several more videos and posting several new episodes of Puppy In Training TV during that time. So stay tuned as we work furiously to get those last few episodes up to YouTube and the website.
As guide dog puppy raisers we always here the question: how do you do it? meaning how to you let your puppy go? I have to say it’s very difficult, but at the same time very exciting to see the puppy you raised move on to help someone achieve independence. While I’m sad to see Dublin leave I’m happy that he will be doing something special for someone else.
Have you turned in a puppy in training to formal training? If so, tell us about your experience.
How I became a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser brings us back more than 5 years ago. It all started at the Orange County Pet Expo way back in 2006. Becoming a guide dog puppy raiser was one of several volunteer activities I was considering at the time.
In the past I had volunteered for many other organizations, but now I wanted to do something to help out people and animals. The number 1 and number 2 volunteer activities on my list were:
Fostering Dogs and Puppies
Guide Dog Puppy Raiser
Here’s how we went from volunteering for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics to Fostering Dogs and Puppies to finally becoming Guide Dog Puppy Raisers!
Fostering Dogs And Puppies
As I mentioned earlier I was interested in volunteering my time helping both people and animals. Back in 2006 I had recently volunteered to help put up dry wall at one of the local habit for humanity homes and while it was/is very fulfilling to help out others by building a home I wanted to do something that involved helping out both people and animals.
A few weeks after putting up drywall for Habitat for Humanity I attended the OC Pet Expo which is held every year in April at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, CA about 15 minutes from my house. I spoke with many of the volunteers at various organizations and decided that I either wanted to volunteer as a foster parent for dogs and puppies or as a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser.
Becoming a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser was a long term commitment. Most organizations required you to raise a puppy from approximately 7 weeks of age until they were 18 months old…that’s nearly 1 1/2 years!!! However, fostering was much more short term and usually lasted until your foster puppy was adopted. I therefore opted to try fostering with a local rescue called Cuddly Canines. We had the opportunity to rescue and adopt out two litters of puppies and a 4 year old purebred long haired German Shepherd. Here’s a picture of the German Shepherd puppies we rescued:
I really enjoyed fostering puppies. Out of the twelve puppies and dogs we fostered the shortest stay in our home was 2 weeks and the longest stay was 3 months. However, I have heard that some dogs and puppies can end up at your home for much longer than 3 months.
Guide Dog Puppy Raisers
I really enjoyed fostering puppies however, I wanted to give Guide Dog Puppy Raising a try. I knew the commitment would be much longer then fostering, but the thought of helping raise, train, and socialize a puppy to become a working guide dog for someone in need sounded like an amazing way to spend my free time.
So I went ahead and submitted my application to the three local guide dog organizations with groups located in Southern California: Guide Dogs of America, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and Guide Dogs of the Desert.
Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) – GDB was the first organization to contact me. I spoke with two of GDB’s group leaders and also attended several meetings and outings. I was very much on the verge of joining GDB as a puppy raiser.
Guide Dogs of America (GDA) – I submitted my application to GDA in October, I called the puppy department three times, and I emailed them several times. I was very persistent, but I nearly gave up on GDA until late December when I was finally scheduled for a home interview.
Guide Dogs of the Desert (GDD) – I submitted my application and emailed them several times, but never heard back from them.
I know all of these organizations are very busy so I don’t fault any of them when it takes a little time to get back in touch. Guide Dogs for the Blind was by far the fastest and most responsive of the three organizations. However, after attending several group meetings I felt like I was lost amongst a large group and had some difficulty making a connection. As I mentioned Guide Dogs for the Desert never got back in touch with me after I sent my application so I really can’t comment on their group meetings or activities. Finally, after waiting nearly 3 months I had the opportunity to speak with the Orange County Guide Dogs of America (OCGDA) Group leader on the phone and then during our home interview. After speaking to Tammy and attending several group meetings I really enjoyed the smaller more personable Orange County Guide Dog Puppy Raising group. I went ahead and decided that the Orange County Guide Dogs of America Puppy Raising Group was the group for me.
I’m currently raising my third guide dog puppy in training for Guide Dogs of America and I’ve been documenting most of their activities on this blog since 2007. We also started a YouTube Channel to document our current pup, Dublin’s adventures as a Guide Dog Puppy. Here’s the first episode:
So that’s how I became a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser! Are you interested in becoming a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser too? If so, then make sure you come back tomorrow and find out how you can become a guide dog puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America.
Do you have an adorable puppy who’s driving you nuts? Not long ago we brought home our first guide dog puppy and after the initial excitement wore off we soon realized we were in for an extreme test of our patience.
My name is Colby and I’ve been raising and training guide dog puppies for the past 5 years. Follow me and my pups on our journey from puppy to working guide dog.